Most respondents to this week's Pensions Buzz do not believe more workers on company boards would improve pension coverage.
This week's survey had 97 respondents and looked at whether the Uber ruling could spur the government to boost auto-enrolment for the self-employed, the effectiveness of IAS 19 accounting standards and protections to stop run away changes to section 67 of the 1995 Pensions Act for accrued benefits.
More than half (54%) of Pensions Buzz respondents think an increase in the number of workers that sit on company boards will not boost pensions coverage across the country.
Some question if staff are knowledgeable enough about pensions to make a real difference while others say company boards only care about the bottom line.
A commentator said: "Just having knowledge on pensions board means nothing unless there is commitment to follow through with overall corporate strategy to increase pension coverage."
Another asked: "Where are these people? Trustee boards often struggle to fill member-nominated trustee vacancies. Pension coverage will increase if pensions become compulsory, and auto-enrolment (AE) is making that happen. The important issue is that the amount saved in pensions makes them worthwhile."
However, 29% said they believe more workers on boards would be a positive development. "Any involvement of employees on boards would be an improvement," said one.
Respondents are split almost equally with 36% replying the Uber ruling will not spur the government to extend auto-enrolment (AE) for the self-employed while 33% took the opposite view.
Among those who said the self-employed would not be helped, one argued the ruling is being challenged and stands a good chance of being overturned or the scope greatly narrowed.
Another said: "Whether or not a person is self-employed in an Uber-like situation is a legal point, and each case will be decided on its own merits. You can't draw a hard-and-fast rule from the Uber case."
Among the third that said the prospects of the self-employed would improve, one respondent said: "Once the hurdle of the gig economy has been breached (and the political appetite appears to be there to ensure that it continues to be breached), then someone will inevitably turn their attention to the self-employed."
Three in ten were undecided.
A greater number of customer representatives on independent governance committees (IGCs) will not improve their performance according to 42%.
One pundit observed it is very difficult to find a small number of customers that are representative of the wider customer base.
A different person said: "Another tick-box idea. In principle it might improve member outcomes, but the providers will be sure to make sure the responsibility to their shareholders (i.e. make as much profit as possible) takes precedence, and the customer representatives would be outvoted."
IGC members are focussed on member outcomes, have a professional background, and are able to bring greater force to bear than an engaged customer representative could, another added.
Conversely 20% said customer representatives are not to be underestimated with one praising Royal London for its appointment.
Another said: "Credible customer and member representatives will undoubtedly challenge the status quo, if they are suitably engaged and aware."
Just under four in ten (38%) were undecided.
The IAS 19 accounting standard does not provide enough information in company records, said 42% of respondents.
The overwhelming sentiment was that more information would benefit trustees, shareholders and investors.
A commentator said: "Some further information from the actuary about the particular deficit and the vagaries of the IAS 19 standard could well help me make a better decision as a potential investor."
Trustees should be getting more information than shown in the accounts, another added, while another suggested it provides information of no value at all.
Yet 28% disagreed but conceded IAS 19 does have limitations. "Admittedly, you do have to have some form of accountancy training to dig out the information," said one.
Another said: "IAS 19 provides very detailed info. An actuary can easily adjust figures to look at costs on a different basis."
Three in ten sat on the fence. "The pensions note is already longer than any other note in most cases. We need to consider what could be removed as well as what might need to be added."
The safest way of preventing ill-advised changes to accrued benefits is through giving The Pensions Regulator (TPR) a right to veto, said 30% of respondents.
Other responses were a trustee veto (28%), collective consent of active and pensioner members (20%), other (20%) and collective consent of active members only (1%).
A commentator said: "A TPR veto should ensure that any changes are genuinely necessary, and not just a company ploy to save money."
A trustee veto is the least bad option, but still puts trustees in a very difficult position, another observed.
Another said: "You'll never get total consent, and many pensioners may well be incapable of giving it anyway. However a majority consent (of those expressing an opinion) may be an acceptable. It works for elections."
Any changes to accrued rights would go against principles of contract law and therefore could only be permissible if all parties to the contract formally agree to a change, another argued.
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